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Lady Gators end Lady Thunderbirds’ season in Class C-1 semifinal

March 3, 2016
By Matt Spielman ( , Westfield Republican

By Matt Spielman

JAMESTOWN (Feb. 24) - Allison Forness entered Wednesday night's Section 6 Class C-1 semifinal averaging 22 points per game.

Article Photos

Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Chautauqua Lake’s Taylor Phelps runs the offense during Wednesday’s Section 6 Class C-1 girls high school semifinal basketball game at Jamestown Community College.

So for No. 5 Chautauqua Lake to hold Allegany-Limestone's 6-foot senior to just six points was quite an accomplishment.

Unfortunately for the Thunderbirds, Forness and fellow 6-footer Morgan Davis dominated on the defensive end of the floor as the top-seeded Gators locked up a spot in the championship game with a 47-29 victory at Jamestown Community College's Physical Education Complex.

"I thought defensively we were good all night long," Allegany-Limestone coach Frank Martin said. "Offense, we played in spurts. ... There is nobody left in the semifinals that's not capable of winning a game or two and continuing to move on."

Allegany-Limestone (19-2) will now look for its first sectional title since 2009 when it takes on No. 2 Cleveland Hill at 6 p.m. Saturday back at Jamestown Community College. The Golden Eagles advanced with a 53-45 win over No. 3 Tapestry on Wednesday at Sweet Home High School.

"Our goal is to be in the game that we are in on Saturday. That was our goal all year long," Martin said. "A year ago, we went out in the semifinals and that was disappointing. We'll be ready to play on Saturday."

Forness finished with six rebounds and three blocked shots while Davis had seven rebounds and four blocked shots as the two continually turned away and altered the Thunderbirds' opportunities.

"You could see in our faces from the get-go, it was very tentative on the offensive end," Chautauqua Lake coach Eric Schuster said. "We had our ups and downs defensively, but the issue was offensively. We just couldn't muster anything at the basket."

Chautauqua Lake, which was the back-to-back sectional champion, finishes its season 10-12, but returns all 11 players on its roster, including eight who will be seniors next season.

"Playing that tougher schedule ... at some point and time that should really help us out in the playoffs," Schuster said. "We'll look forward to next year and the kids will keep working hard, that's for sure."

The Thunderbirds hung around Wednesday night and eventually made their push in the third quarter. Sophomore Jesse Zenns, who finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds, brought Chautauqua Lake within eight before freshman Katelyn Fardink scored to make it a six-point game. Junior Samantha Gleason then made 1-of-2 free throws to pull Chautauqua Lake within five.

Brooke Giardini, who finished with a game-high 14 points, then hit a 3-pointer and Davis followed with a bucket as the Gators' lead grew back to a comfortable 10.

"We just had to relax. Brooke is a sophomore and she is a wonderful shooter. She missed a couple and it started to impact her confidence. That was huge. It was a dagger 3 when she hit it," Martin said. "Then Morgan, another sophomore, came back and hit that next bucket. When we stretched it out to 10 again, after the run, I felt good going into the fourth."

"Our focus was that we knew coming out in the second half that their both of their bigs had two fouls. We were looking to isolate in the post and we just didn't get it in there enough. When we did, we just didn't finish," Schuster said. "It went from five to 12 in a hurry. It went downhill from there."

Chautauqua Lake was able to cut the lead back to single digits early in the fourth quarter, but another Giardini 3-pointer pushed Allegany-Limestone back up by 12 and Zenns fouled out shortly thereafter. The Gators made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to lock up a spot in Saturday's title game.

"The last thing you want to have to do is play man and be in foul trouble," Martin said. "They did a nice job on (Forness) all night long. There was one and there was help. When that happens, other players have to step up. To our credit tonight, other players stepped up."

Giardini had eight points and Sarah DeCapua had five for Allegany-Limestone as it led 17-7 after the first quarter. Zenns helped the Thunderbirds hang around with six of her team's seven points.

"We talked to Jesse and said 'you know, you are really going to have to come and play hard or these bigs will make you look foolish,'" Schuster said. "Jesse's switch just has to be on all the time. Sometimes it's not on and it needs to be because when it is, she can dominate."

Chautauqua Lake committed five of its 18 turnovers in the second quarter as the Gators maintained their 10-point lead. Taylor Phelps, who entered the game as the Thunderbirds' leading scorer, made a 3-pointer with 4:50 left, but that turned out to be her only field goal in the game.

"She never really got going. She did a such a nice job defensively on Forness," Schuster said about Phelps. "The downside of her great defense that she always plays is that she would be winded and lose her legs. She got a few looks, but unfortunately today they just didn't drop for her."



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